Lucca was probably my favourite place that we visited in Tuscany. The pace was slower, quieter and much easier, it truly felt like we had stepped back in time and we were in Italy – the Italy that you read about in books, where the cobbled streets are filled with the smell of cooking, people walk their dogs and chat to everyone they pass, older ladies are at their door, busy with their chores.
Cities all around the world, despite the different cultures, architecture and languages, so often have the same rhythm. Huge volumes of cars and people, the rush of crowds, workers and tourists, busy and bustling, with similar shops, cafes and restaurants – we felt this in Florence and Pisa, we felt like we had been there before, it all causes there to be ‘much of a muchness’ when you visit new places. Lucca was different.
We arrived fairly early in the day at Lucca train station and it was apparent straight away that it was a different kind of place. We had read about the city and its grand circular walls that surround it and decided to begin our day with a stroll along the top of the walls with views over the city. The walk way was quiet, peaceful and calm with joggers and gentle cyclists. The air was a lot of clearer and there were much fewer cars.
As soon as we stepped foot into the city streets, we were in love. The cobbled streets lead you around quiet corners before opening out into beautiful informal public open spaces. The shops in Lucca were also beautiful, lots of hand crafted goods, unlike anything you have seen before. We spent a while in a shop in the Piazza Anfiteatro which made beautiful bags and homeware out of paper. The paper is treated and worked the same way as leather making it a wonderfully strong and unique material.
We spent the whole day wandering, sitting outside some of the most beautiful buildings, eating gelato from little cafés and we found a cute tower, much smaller than those in Florence but it offered a great view of the city.
I noticed the lack of vegetation in the centre of Pisa and Florence, I missed the trees. Lucca’s streets were lined with huge trees with lots of little clusters of trees amongst public spaces.
Lucca is very small so it is easy to walk around the whole city in one day, we felt so much more relaxed in Lucca and it was a great way to end our visit to Tuscany.
Early evening we got the train back to Pisa and we knew that we wanted to check out a pizzeria our host had recommended. The pizzeria was like a café come bar, it was nice to settle in a more chilled out environment as we were so exhausted. The recipes are supposed to be true to the original Napoleon Pizza recipe and they really were great!
To end our adventure we wandered through the city one last time, with a hope to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Piazza del Duomo lit up and shining amongst the starry sky and that is exactly what we did. Sitting on the step, watching ladies and men dressed in ball gowns and tuxes inter the Duomo for a musical event and kissing goodbye to Italy.
We had such a great time in Italy, we got back home feeling exhausted but happy. I am so glad to have finally got round to documenting this trip.
Lucca I love you, we will be back, I know it!